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Tibco Labs and the Blockchain experiment

  Blockchain concept 3D digital chain © sashkin - Fotolia.com Like any new technology that is projected up to the scourging, Blockchain is currently the potential answer to anything, including all future things that no one has thought of yet. And like any other new technology, the reality of Blockchain will probably be much less comprehensive.

To begin with, one of the key problems is that there are not yet any real standards, and all the companies that are jumping on the bandwagon are, in practice, designing their own bandwagon. It always amazes me that differentiation is seen as one of the hallmarks of innovation in the technology sector, while it is usually one of the biggest obstacles on the road to true innovation – its application in and the real world.

It was therefore no surprise to learn, at the Tibco NOW conference last week in Las Vegas, that the company was coming forward as a player in the Blockchain arena. After all, the main goal of Blockchain is to create highly secure registrations and management, immutably attributable to business data transactions between individuals or companies that act or work together. This type of data integration is right in the Balliwick of Tibco.

But it was a rather surprising surprise to learn that at least part of his approach is to investigate ways in which some of the weaknesses in the real world of technology could be solved. The new Chief Chief Officer of the company, Nelson Petracek, announced during an opening conference that one of the new projects launched in the new Tibco Labs service was to be Project Dovetail.

This was based on the notion that it should be possible. It is possible to create an environment in which developers working with Blockchain should be able to create an application once and run it in any Blockchain environment without rewriting. In practice, as Petracek has told the public, the starting point is slightly less ambitious, aiming at a single task – the writing of smart contracts – along with only two versions of Blockchain.

Is it a Blockchain bridge that I see in front of me? [19659007] But as Petracek told me in a post-keynote interview, this is also an open source project, and if it works the way it expects it to expect, it also expects the open source community to join by developing implementations that fit with other versions of Blockchain and other tasks that can follow the same approach:

We arrived at this point with a handful of paintings. Obviously, there are hundreds of them, so we will not support them all. That's why the idea is to make it open source. If people have their own blockchain framework on which they want to overlap this topic, they just have to write that bridge.

He does not want to fall into the trap of making outrageous statements and wants to be clear that they only expect to get a certain percentage of the path along this road. Each framework will offer some features and extensions that do not translate into any other framework. So the main goal for now is to create an environment that is very extensible.

The result so far is a model of plug-in activity in which users can link their activity and generate a generic model that can be moved from one framework to the next. It will always be necessary to customize all the proprietary activities, but sees that the central role of the open source community as specific problems of a single user goes beyond the responsibilities that the laboratories can assume.

To this end, although Project Dovetail is not yet available on GitHub, it will certainly be in the near future. At the moment it only works with two versions of Blockchain, R3 and HyperLedger, said Petracek:

We have chosen these two because they are two very common ones in the industry and they are as different as the ones you will get. R3 is not necessarily a blockchain and the traditional definition of a blockchain fabric is much closer, even if it is more oriented to be a corporate blockchain. But I can take a smart contract written in Dovetail and push it into R3 and it will work. In turn, I can push it onto HyperLedger fabric and it will work.

Petracek is well aware that this is very early for the notions of bridges existing between different variants of Blockchain. But it is also aware of the need for them, particularly in areas such as financial management in which banks and other organizations really need a standardized Blockchain environment among all of them if they want to effectively manage cross-currency exchanges. [19659002] In this particular sector Blockchain also has the competition of an alternative solution, the Interledger Protocol, which addresses the problem by using a variant of IP to allow interaction between different registers, while Blockchain proposes to build a single book master distributed between individual parts. It seems likely that an Interlingger linking different blockchains may be the solution here, reducing the need for direct interoperability with blockchains.

See more space that could be required in areas such as health care, particularly in the United States. Given the complex way of managing US health care, it is quite possible that there is a need for smart contracts and other transaction documents to pass between different blockchain networks.

Abstractions leading to model libraries

With Dovetail the original premise was first to simplify and create smart contracts, which is difficult today. The second part was the creation of a generic framework through which intelligent contracts must be written only once. So they have already begun to create a level of abstraction away from the real code:

And then we said it would be interesting to have a library of intelligent contract models for vertical market sectors. So I could have health care models, I could choose another industry chain, I could get some subgroups of business problems and create a set of models. And because our language is very graphic, and is now based on the rules embedded in the company's Flogo micro-services integration tools, I not only have intelligent flow-controlled Blockchain contract constructs, but I've also automatically adjusted the constructs. of the turn.

It is easy to have a library of these things. And with open source, people can pull down the library and use a template as an appetizer to start writing their smart contract. You can use complete industry-standard templates that are used. But this is the way down.

Other "blue sky" areas painted at Tibco Labs is the combination of Blockchain smart contracts and another Labs project, AuditSafe. For users who participate in Master Blockchain books, they see the true value deriving from this and need to run a node because they get better transparency and visibility in the transactions that are in the audit trail. They can therefore participate in the consent and the creation of transactions. But they can use Dovetail to create some smart contracts developed on that audit trail.

Now they can have the business logic embedded in their node, running on their site as part of the blockchain network and in the execution of transactions that use smart contracts against those transactions:

Here's where we'd like to go with it . The first step is to try it and get it out as a typical Labs project, to see what people think and go from there.

Still further, and still on some long-term "wish list" of possibilities, is the possibility that the generic model of extensible Dovetail activity can grow into a broader and more flexible bridge between different Blockchain technologies, creating the ability to take input from a Blockchain and provide comparable and safe results for a different Blockchain. But this is still in the realm of "maybe".

My opinion

Despite numerous fans and numerous pilot projects, the suspicion is that it will take some time before Blockchain is remotely close to the "mainstream business tool". And the general & # 39; gee whizzery & # 39; that surrounds the technological aspects, almost for their own interest, could even slow down the innovations that will surely follow its tracks over time.

So perhaps it is not surprising that one of Blockchain's most interesting developments recently came from a company that is not known to be in the technology sales team A. But what Tibco is doing here with Project Dovetail is trying to look at a more real interpretation of the world of what can be done with what Blockchain can do. They do not know whether it will take things forward – GitHub's adoption by the open source community will be a good guide.

But the company will surely learn a lot that is useful from the process, as well as any third party that imagines being involved. It will take a while, but this could mark the start of the passage for Blockchain from propeller heads on pilot projects to the real world

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